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The Schmooze

These Are America’s Richest Self-Made Jewish Women

Forbes Magazine has released the list of the 62 richest self-made women in America — women whose wealth results not from inheritance but rather from entrepreneurship. 17 of the women are Jewish, meaning that Jews occupy over 27% of the list. (Note: Jews represent two percent of Americans.)

The combined fortune of the women on the list, reports Forbes, equals $71 billion, a 15% increase from last year. Of the 62 women (Forbes provided a top sixty, but there are two ties), two are Israeli. One, Kylie Jenner, the 20 year-old business woman and social media ‘influencer,’ is set to become the youngest billionaire in the world in the next year, unseating Mark Zuckerberg for that title. Besides Jenner and her half sister Kim Kardashian, there is another set of sisters on the list — Jewish siblings Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, and Anne Wojcicki, the CEO and creator of 23andMe.

Here are all the Jewish women who made the Richest Self-Made Americans list this year:

Number 8, Doris Fisher

Fisher, who’s worth an estimated $2.8 billion, co-founded Gap with her husband in 1969 in San Francisco. Fisher and her three sons are all philanthropists who have given extensively to education-related causes including charter schools, and donated a major collection of fine art to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Fisher and her husband have also given regularly to Republican, and, less frequently, Democratic candidates.

Number 9, Elaine Wynn

Wynn and her ex-husband Steve Wynn co-founded Mirage Resorts in 1973 and then Wynn Resorts in 2002 in Las Vegas, growing an empire that has earned her the name “The Queen of Las Vegas.” Worth an estimated $2.5 billion, Wynn has been the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts since March 2018. Wynn co-chairs the board of the LA County Museum of Art, and donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood after the Women’s March.

Number 10, Lynda Resnick

If you’ve ever had a Fiji Water, a POM pomegranate drink, or even a handful of pistachios, you’ve helped to line the pockets of Lynda Resnick, the owner of Wonderful and Co. with her husband Stewart Resnick. Resnick vice-chairs and co-owns the company, responsible for the company’s phenomenally successful marketing strategies. Worth $2.4 billion, Resnick’s motto is “doing well by doing good,” though the company and specifically the couple have come under fire for their massive water use both in California during periods of drought and in Fiji, where they pump and bottle near locals who have no water to drink. Resnick is a massive supporter of educational causes including charter schools, and is a board member for the Milken Foundation.

Number 12, Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg, an executive-turned-guru-turned-writer, is the Chief Operating Officer for Facebook and the author of bestselling titles “Lean In” and “Plan B.” Sandberg is noted not just as a writer but as the mother of “lean in-feminism,” and after the tragic death of her husband, became an increasingly public authority on navigating grief. Sandberg, who is worth an estimated $1.6 billion, continues to be the main face of Facebook, secondary only to creator Mark Zuckerberg.

Number 13, Kathy Fields and Katie Rodan

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Fields and Rodan, both Jewish women doctors, have an estimated worth of $1.5 billion for their skincare lines: Proactiv and Rodan + Fields. The Stanford educated dermatologists successfully tapped into the skincare market, catering to people who can’t or won’t go to the dermatologist with Proactiv, a three-part monthly subscription service for acne which is now owned by Nestle. In 2002 later launched Rodan & Fields, a skincare brand sold through a multi-level marketing system, for which they have been accused of mimicking the style of a pyramid scheme.

Number 21, Sara Blakely

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Blakely, at an estimated worth of $1 billion, is the renowned founder of the women’s shapewear brand Spanx, a revolutionary sort of spandex corset for the post-Victorian world. Blakely is a celebrated public entrepreneur who started by selling fax machines door-to-door and has more recently served as a judge on the investment TV show SharkTank. Blakely converted to Judaism when she got married.

Number 29, Tory Burch

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At an estimated worth of $800 million, Tory Burch has grown her fashion line of the same name from a single boutique into a lifestyle brand that represents playful luxury. She has been described in these pages as “the patron saint of the WASPy Jew by way of Ralph Lauren.” She also runs The Tory Burch Foundation, which supports female entrepreneurship, working to educate and mentor women who might not otherwise have opportunities to launch businesses.

Number 31, Nancy Zimmerman

Zimmerman is the richest female hedge fund founder in the United States, with an estimated worth of $750 million. She co-founded Boston’s Bracebridge Capital, where she is a managing partner. Zimmerman and her husband, Harvard economics professor Andrei Shleifer, have both ran into legal trouble with the US government over financial dealings.

Number 32, Safra Catz

The Israeli-born co-CEO of Oracle, a software company, is one of the highest-paid female CEOs. Catz, who is worth an estimated $740 million, has held the position of president at Oracle as well as Chief Finance Officer, and serves on the board of the Walt Disney Corporation.

Number 42, Susan Wojcicki

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Wojcicki and her sister Anne (number 44) are daughters of Esther Wojcicki, a renowned high school educator, and Stanley Wojcicki, a physics professor at Stanford. Susan Wojcicki is the CEO of YouTube and is worth an estimated $480 million. She was an early Google employee who — incredibly — never took a computer science class until senior year of college.

Number 43,Donna Karan

Karan is worth an estimated $470 million for the eponymous fashion company she created in 1985, where she worked as chief designer until 2015. Karan, who started at Anne Klein and is considered a major female fashion pioneer, now runs the Urban Zen foundation.

Number 44, Anne Wojcicki

Wojcicki, sister of Susan Wojcicki (number 42) is worth an estimated $440 million. She is the co-founder and CEO of 23andMe, the DNA testing kits that have instigated a cultural fascination with DNA testing. She is the ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

Number 46, Adi Tatarko

Tatarko is the CEO and co-founder of Houzz, a home design website she created with her husband Alon Cohen after they struggled to renovate their own home. She studied at Hebrew University and travelled through Thailand after her army service, where she met a fellow Israeli traveler who became her husband. She is worth an estimated $430 million.

Number 48, Judy Sheindlin

Judy Sheindlin, or Judge Judy, as her fans know her, is worth an estimated $400 million. At a current salary of $47 million a year, she is one of the highest paid stars on television. Her show has aired for 22 seasons.

Number 48, Barbra Streisand

Tied with Sheindlin for number 48 is America’s songbird Barbra Streisand, also worth $400 million for an illustrious stage and screen career that has earned her an “EGOT” — at least one of each Emmy, a Grammy, Oscar, and Tony awards.

Number 57, Martine Rothblatt

Rothblatt co-founded SiriusXM radio, but the bulk of her fortune comes from her remarkable career in biotech. Rothblatt’s youngest daughter Jenesis was diagnosed with primary pulmonary hypertension, a fatal disease with a life expectancy rate of two years past diagnosis. Rothblatt used the money from the SiriusXM IPO to create a foundation, pull a pharmacologist out of retirement and instate him as CEO, and then license an existing drug that was not being marketed and manufacture it in pill form. Now Jenesis is 30, thanks in part to the medication Rothblatt brought to market. Rothblatt, who is a trans woman, has also published a book called “The Apartheid of Sex” that argued, essentially, that the binary gender model is useless. She is worth an estimated $340 million.

Honorary mention: Alice Schwartz

Schwartz, number 19 on the list at $1.3 billion for the company she co-founded, Bio-Rad, likes to keep her private life private. It is not clear whether or not she is Jewish.

Honorary mention: Danielle Steel

Steel, titan of the romance novel industry, is number 54 on the list with a worth estimated as $350 million. Her father is Jewish but was brought up Catholic, she has said, and, as a child, dreamed of becoming a nun. Ah, well. It was a close call.

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny


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